Bible Reading: John 17:1-26
I have often heard people speak about the finished work of Christ, and that now He is sat down next to the Father, and His work is accomplished. This is true but not fully correct. The finished work of Christ upon the cross was the completion of the work of redemption. That is why Jesus came to earth, but it was not the end of Christ’s ministry. He promised never to leave us [Matthew 28:20]; He is preparing a place for us [John 14:2-3]; He is building His Church [Matthew 16:18]; He still speaks to His Church [Revelation chapters 2-3]; He welcomes faithful saints home [Acts 7:56], and continues to do all the things that He did, both before and after He purchased our redemption on the cross.
There are many types in the Old Testament that were a foreshadowing of the things to come. The High Priest of Israel was a foreshadowing of Jesus, who is the Great High Priest [Hebrews 4:14-5:11]. One of the ministries of the High Priest was to intercede, and in Hebrews we discover that Jesus intercedes for us – Jesus always lives to make intercession for those who come to God through Him [Hebrews 7:25]. Here is a remarkable picture – Jesus, our High Priest, standing before the Father and praying for us. In His first epistle, John calls Jesus our Advocate [1 John 2:1]. An advocate stands before the judge on behalf of another! Interceding for us, His children, is an on-going work of Christ. Sometimes I am overwhelmed, especially in tough times, to know that Jesus is praying for me!
Prayer was always a vital aspect of Jesus’ ministry even when He was on earth. Through prayer He lived in vital communion with His Father. Consider some of the references in the New Testament of Jesus praying. “He went up on the mountains to pray by Himself” [Matthew 14:23]. He prayed for the little children [Matthew 19:13]. As His death approached He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray” [Matthew 26:36]. When His captors arrested Jesus He spoke about prayer [Matthew 26:53]. His disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray after they had been watching Him pray [Luke 11:1]. When Jesus became popular He often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed [Luke 5:16]. It was as Jesus was praying that His countenance was changed and He was transfigured [Luke 9:29]. Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail [Luke 22:32]. When He was in agony, in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed [Luke 22:44]. However, the most we read about Jesus praying is in what is known as His High Priestly prayer in John chapter seventeen. Over the next three days we will take a close look at this prayer, as He prays for Himself, His disciples, and those who would later believe on Him.
If prayer was so important to Jesus why do you think that it is also so important for us if we are to succeed in the Christian life?
Why do you think it is that prayer comes under so much attack, and the prayer meetings are often the least attended of Christian meetings? What can you do personally to improve the quality of your prayer life?